"As a novice guitarist (even after several years I never have managed to get past being a novice), I have developed an appreciation for quality guitars.
the first guitar I bought for myself. "Bubba One" is a Takamine GX-200 solid body electric (Takamine produced solid-body electrics for only a couple of years in the 80's) purchased from a used guitar shop around 1992 for $80 (along with a used practice amp for another $50). "Bubba 1" has stock dual humbuckers with two volume controls, one tone control and a three-way switch allowing you to choose between the neck pickup, the bridge pickup or both at the same time. It is a set neck guitar and used to be white, but has aged to a beautiful cream color (the photo does not do it justice). I love playing this guitar and I can't see parting with it ever. I now understand a bit the attachment a guitarist has with his or her instrument.
At that time I wanted to try to learn guitar and thought I could teach myself. The salesperson gave me a Mel Bay "teach yourself guitar" type book which I happily took home. Once home, I plugged everything in, opened the instruction book and got completely confused. At that time, I was working three jobs, seven days a week so I couldn't take lessons. After several weeks of trying to figure out chord charts, tablature and other stuff in that book, I finally gave up and put the guitar in the closet promising myself that if I could, I would get someone to teach me something.
After several years, I was hired at WCTV as a production assistant and only a few months after I was hired, WCTV hired two guys for engineer positions who played together in a local band; Chris and John. I asked them if they could show me some basics on the guitar and they enthusiastically agreed. A couple of days later, I brought my set-up in and they managed to teach me some simple chords within minutes. This encouraged me greatly. They even explained to me the various information in the Mel Bay book that confused me several years previously.
After some time, it became quite obvious that lugging around "Bubba One" (at that time, known affectionately just as "Bubba"), a practice amp, guitar chord books and other odds and ends was just getting old. And upon Chris's and John's recommendation I set out to save up enough cash to get an acoustic guitar.
By this time I had a better home computer that allowed me to surf the web (my old computer before that was an old 386 with the old plasma green monitor -- anyone remember them?) and look for various acoustic guitars. I also visited the local guitar shops looking at various acoustics. Unfortunately, the store where I bought "Bubba One" was no longer in business and frankly I was no guitar expert. So I asked a lot of questions and observed how various shops treated me. Without getting into specifics, let me just say that one shop, MusicMasters, treated me wonderfully as opposed to a lot of the local shops where I received varying levels of treatment ranging from indifference to outright disrespect and hostility just for trying to educate myself on acoustic guitars."
After several weeks of consideration, I decided that the acoustic guitar for me was an Ovation Celebrity Deluxe.
I had seen some on various websites and liked the way it looked. There were a couple in some of the local shops as well that I played and I liked the way it sounded, the way it felt and the way it played. I figured that I could purchase one with a case for around $600. So I began to save money and after several months I had tucked away enough to go get one. However I decided to keep an open mind in case I ran across something that just felt "right."
Now I am very cautious when it comes to a major purchase like this and I was not about to lay down hundreds of dollars for a piece of garbage. However I really didn't know what to look for in a used guitar. I had no trained eye. However Chris and John both had knowledge I lacked therefore I asked if either one would like to go with me on a weekend excursion around Tallahassee looking at used acoustic guitars. Chris agreed and on a subsequent Saturday we tooled around town going from shop to shop. By the way, remember me mentioning MusicMasters earlier on? I decided that since they were the most helpful, patient and courteous of all the shops I visited in my quest for acoustic guitar knowledge, we'd start with them first. They had at that time a wonderful selection of new and used acoustic guitars. Bobby, the manager, showed me several used acoustics he had on hand. One in particular was an Ibanez AE model that really played well and intrigued me. Chris inspected it, played it and pronounced it to be quite a good guitar. Turns out the Ibanez was being sold on consignment by a regular customer who Bobby knew. Even though I really, really liked the Ibanez and the price was a great bargain at $275, I was bound and determined to get an Ovation Celebrity Deluxe which unfortunately Bobby did not have at that time.
Our second stop was a place called Music Exchange which was only a few blocks away. They also had a nice selection of new and used guitars (many of which we played) including two Ovation Celebrity Deluxes, either of which I would have been happy with. Chris examined both of them and pronounced them fit and good. However the clerks there that day were both professional musicians each with a particularly annoying condescending attitude and neither of whom were particularly helpful. But they DID have two Ovation guitars which interested me. I was tempted to go ahead and buy one, but Chris convinced me to continue with our quest just in case we found the "right" guitar. And by that time, the $275 Ibanez that I liked was starting to look better and better.
Our next stop was a new shop that specialized in Fender guitars and at that time a small selection of Paul Reed Smith guitars. Even though the clerks were quite helpful, they did not have any used acoustic guitars at that time (they did have a used Fender Jag-Stang for what I found out much later was an excellent price, but at that time I was not interested - boy I regretted that decision later on [NOTE: I did end up buying one years later and really enjoy it.]).
We then cruised to another small shop (at that time Tallahassee did not have any large guitar shops like major cities do) that had a minor selection of used acoustic guitars, however when the clerks learned that I was looking for an Ovation proceeded to engage in hard sell tactics trying to convince me that all Ovations were crap and that I needed to buy a new Taylor if I truly wanted to learn how to play guitar (of which not-so-incidentally they were an authorized dealer). Of course, their CHEAPEST Taylor guitar was around $1100 which was much more than I was willing to pay anyway.
[A quick bit of advice for clerks who use hard-sell tactics - DON'T! Hard sell tactics, in my humble opinion, are reserved for stereotypical used-car salesman and is a major turn-off for the customer. In my case, it's not only a turn-off, but a major annoyance which tends to drive me away forever.]
Needless to say, even though Taylor guitars are quite wonderful guitars in their own right and maybe one day, if I get good enough and can save up the cash, I might treat myself by buying one.
However I digress...
Chris and I left that store very dissatisfied. However, there was one more guitar shop left. This particular shop had an interesting selection of new and used guitars. Their prices were reasonable and they even had a used Ovation Celebrity Deluxe in stock as well. The clerk, though not particularly helpful (he was practicing guitar behind the counter), was not annoying either and by that time, it was a plus. However, in my mind an Ovation was taking a back seat to that $275 Ibanez I played in the first store we visited. It would have taken a major discovery of the "perfect guitar" (whatever that is) for me to have changed my mind. I mentioned this to Chris and to my surprise he told me that he thought it was the best guitar we tried today and if I didn't buy it, he was seriously considering getting it for himself.
Needless to say, we politely departed and headed back to MusicMasters. On the way, it was decided that just for the heck of it, we would try to talk Bobby into dropping the price. It couldn't hurt to try. We walked into the shop and asked Bobby if he could drop the price by about $50. He politely told me that it was a consignment item and he couldn't change the price since someone else set it. Bobby knew I was interested. Chris and I felt he was being honest and sincere. Furthermore, since he couldn't drop the price on the guitar itself, he decided to drop the price on a gig bag for the guitar if I was truly interested in buying the Ibanez. I had planned on getting a gig bag anyway so this sealed the deal for me. I paid Bobby and gently put the guitar into the padded gig bag. This was my new baby and I was going to treat it lovingly from the start. I'm kind of funny that way with my guitars. I treat my wife and my guitars with love, gentleness and respect although I do treat my wife slightly better overall. At least that's what she tells me.
I was thrilled with my new guitar and as Chris and I drove out of the parking lot, we started up to discuss naming guitars. B.B. King has "Lucille" and Eric Clapton had "Blackie." Chris was curious as to what, if anything, I would name the Ibanez AE (acoustic/electric). Now I have somewhat of a sense of humor and tend to not do things in a normal way if I can get away with it, so within moments of considering Chris's challenge, I immediately dubbed the Ibanez "Bubba Too." I told Chris that since my Takamine electric was "Bubba" why can't my Ibanez be "Bubba" also. And to tell them apart, I'd call `em "Bubba One" and "Bubba Too." Chris was amused.
Driving down the street, Chris impulsively asked me to stop back at Music Exchange since there was a guitar he wanted to try out that he didn't get to before. I thought that was a cool idea since there was a guitar there I was also interested in.
We pulled in the lot, got out of the car and entered the store ignoring the condescending indifference the two clerks displayed. Chris sauntered over to a rack, pulled one of the electrics from its wall holder and went to the back to plug it in and play it. While Chris played, I immediately went to a particular maroon colored retro guitar with three lipstick pickups. The guitar intrigued me earlier firstly because of its color (it was maroon with white sides and being a Mississippi State alum, those colors are near and dear to my heart) and secondly because it was marked down quite a bit from its original price. I guess no one was interested in the Danelectro DC-3, but I thought it looked cool. But how did it sound? One does not buy a guitar on looks alone. I took the guitar to the back and plugged it in asking Chris to try it out (remember, at that time I was a beginning guitarist who barely knew a handful of chords). As he manipulated the switches and knobs producing a remarkable amount of different sounds, it became clear to both of us that this was an excellent and unique instrument. After a little coaxing, Chris convinced me to play some of the handful of chords I knew so I could get a feel for it. I had to admit that the guitar felt extremely good in my hands, the strings were easy to fret with a nice low action and the neck felt great and was extremely fast. And the semi-hollow body is very light but still has excellent sustain. Overall, the Danelectro DC-3 is a great guitar for the money and then some.
With the help of my parents and my in-laws along with trading in some of the guitars (low-end and mid-range models) I had purchased over the past several years, I finally bought my first ever American made Fender Stratocaster in July 2002. And believe it or not, I had enough money left over to purchase a second guitar that intrigued me; a Fender Jaguar."